When Peter Foggo and David Thomas met during their architectural studies in Liverpool in the 1950s, their friendship was solidified by a mutual admiration for German modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The influence of the legendary Bauhaus designer on the two young architects is perhaps clearest in their eventual collaboration: Space House, a single-story structure of steel, glass, and wood on a grassy patch of East Grinstead in West Sussex, England.
Completed in 1963, the house was the result of the architects’ idle time. Each worked at separate firms during the day, but spent the hours between 8pm and midnight devising their own modernist plans. In a manner reminiscent of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois and with an air inspired by the Case Study Houses of California, Space House appears to levitate above its site, with a simple set of stairs leading to a sun-soaked frontal terrace. With its simple but logical H-shaped layout, the family home was devised as a prototype for future residential design.
Left: A Saarinen Side Table in the living area of Space House. Right: The steel frame, glass and timber construction of Foggo & Thomas' design. Images courtesy of The Modern House.
But after succumbing to dilapidation in the decades that followed, Space House became the focus of a concerted restoration in 2002 by London-based design studio Lee/Fitzgerald Architects. Recently sold to a new owner by The Modern House, which manages an extensive roster of iconic modern properties in the UK, the structure has become newly appreciated for its simple yet stunning form.
True to its architectural influences, the open plan interiors of Space House remain replete with mid-century modern design. A Saarinen Side Table, for instance, holds a vase of flowers that ties the living area to its natural surrounds. And as with Mies van der Rohe’s iconic abode in Farnsworth, the house is partly encased large plates of glass, which frame composed segments of the interior rooms. These vignettes are best viewed from the front garden, where a set of 1966 Lounge Chairs and Coffee Table provide a setting for fresh air.
1966 Coffee Table and Lounge Chairs, designed by Richard Schultz for Knoll, in the garden of Space House. Image courtesy of The Modern House.
Designed by Richard Schultz for Knoll as its first outdoor line, the white metal frames of the iconic 1966 Collection share the cool structural and material expression of Foggo and Thomas’ architecture. Together, the building and furniture write an ode to modern living, celebrating the blissful combination of proportion and sunlight.